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Ep 15: Creating Culture Change in Large Organizations

Is positive culture change possible in large organizations? How do you navigate bureaucracy and win executive leadership buy-in for new initiatives? Hear the success story of UVU’s value-based culture enhancements from the HR pro leading the way.

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Meet Justine Gamble

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Justine works within Utah Valley University's People and Culture office - overseeing culture and communication - where she strives to create that positive employee experience for UVU's 6,500 employees. 

Some of her projects include developing the national- and regional-award-winning leadership and staff competencies programs, completely revamping new employee onboarding, implementing remote work, and conducting hundreds of hours of leadership and executive coaching and training using the Birkman Method. 

She was recently awarded UVU's Employee Award of Excellence and Outstanding Alumni Award for her ability to quickly achieve buy-in up and down the chain of command to deliver these employee programs successfully.

Episode Highlights

The key to driving change in a bureaucratic organization

Justine Gamble: The biggest key to delivering these really quick impactful changes and jumping through some of the bureaucracy of a University is being able to achieve organizational buy-in from the entire organization. Getting buy- in from the employees on the ground, and their input throughout the whole process, as well as accomplishing, and achieving decision maker buy-in. If you have those two things you can really accomplish anything.

The role of feedback in achieving buy-in

Justine Gamble: “Try to get their feedback not only at the development, but as you're building the program. It's an iterative process where you're sending it out and getting feedback at different points. And once you have the final product, you go back to the people that provided feedback and you say, “Hey, here's the final product. And here's how we took your feedback and your content into consideration while we were building this.” That's going to immediately make them feel like an owner. They will become advocates. They will tell their co-workers and leaders about it and that's going to be a good way to help it spread, because they feel like they were part of that process.”

Managing “up”

Justine Gamble: “It comes down to UVU’s core values, which are exceptional accountability, and exceptional results. And using those values to actually manage up and build strategic relationships and usually beneficial relationships. It's getting to know our leaders as a person, not putting them on this pedestal, but getting to know them as a person. 

Exceptional accountability is being the one to initiate accountability conversations. So if you have a leader that comes to you and gives you a project or five projects or whatever that looks like, instead of waiting for them to come back and say, “Hey, what's the status on that?”, you provide regular updates, and provide a summary of where you’re at on these projects and ask for feedback.

Then, it's delivering on those results. It's being confident and competent and being able to make your supervisor’s life easier by helping them reach their goals. It builds trust, which becomes the foundation of success.”

Crista Vance: “That is such a great way to institutionalize managing relationships in an organization.”

What to do when a leader says no

Justine Gamble: “My recommendation would be to not lose hope. Providing an idea with supporting evidence may plant a seed of change. It might not go exactly the way that you plan, but it's probably still going to institute some effective change. Keep conducting research. Gather more data and try again next year with additional solutions or ideas.”

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